On Saturday I went with a group of friends to Baltimore to look over the Historic Ships. For some reason I'd been thinking that this was a temporary exhibit and was fully expecting to see an armada of beautiful old schooners and galleons with sails unfurled that billowed in the salty breeze. So I was very disappointed to find myself standing on the quay looking at a couple of rusty tubs with not a single flapping piece of material in sight apart from a U.S. flag. We were actually viewing the 4 resident vessels in the harbor that sit there all year long and are therefore easily overlooked. But, wanting to remain upbeat, I refused to allow my enthusiasm be dampened in any way and so strode forward and up the gangplank of the first boat to explore it thoroughly.
The Chesapeake is a lightship from 1930, the most modern built by the US Lightship Service at the time, boasting superb stability, accommodation, signaling capacity and engineering. During World War II it aided in the war effort off the Cape Cod Canal.
It was decommissioned and since 1971 has served as a floating museum.
The third ship to tour was the Constellation, launched in 1854. This was the last all-sail ship built by the US Navy and the only vessel still afloat that saw active duty during the Civil War. It's also the largest example of traditional Chesapeake Bay wooden shipbuilding in existence.
The last ship we saw was USCGC (United States Coast Guard Cutter) Taney, constructed in 1935 for the US Coast Guard. She is the last surviving ship from the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. She saw duty during the Vietnam War and has patroled both east and west coasts.
I really enjoyed the tours, especially after my initial disappointment, and we definitely lucked out regarding the crowds. As we were finishing the weather broke with the sun suddenly warming up the harbor, and as the clouds blew away the people appeared as though on cue. By the time we left, the harbor was a mass of people walking about, stuffing ice cream and watching street performers who had also popped out from nowhere. We drove back back, fortunate to miss the heavy traffic and I got home before dark, relishing the chance to have a lazy evening and prep for another busy day on Sunday.